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DEC Proposes New SEQRA Regulations

The New York State  Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed the first major changes in the implementing regulations for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in two decades.  The proposed amended regulations, if adopted, will bring about a number of procedural changes intended to streamline the SEQRA process.

 Most significant is the increase in “Type II Actions” that are exempt from environmental review. The additions to the Type II list include, among other activities:

(7) Installation of fiber-optic or other broadband cable technology in existing highway or utility rights of way; 

(14) installation of cellular antennas or repeaters on an existing structure that is not listed on the National or State registers of historic places or located within a district listed in the National or State registers of historic places or that has not been determined by the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to be eligible for listing on the State Register of Historic Places pursuant to sections 14.07 or 14.09 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law; 

(17) [12] granting of area variances not involving a change in allowable density [individual setback] and lot-line [variances] adjustments; 

(18) subdivisions defined as minor under a municipality’s adopted subdivision regulations, or subdivision of four or fewer lots, whichever is less, that involve ten acres or less, and provided the subdivision was not part of a larger tract subdivided within the previous five years from the date of the application for plat approval and is not within or substantially contiguous to a critical environmental area that has been designated pursuant to section 617.14 of this Part; 

(19) on a previously disturbed site in the municipal center of a city, town or village having a population of 20,000 persons or less, with an adopted zoning law or ordinance, construction of a residential or commercial structure or facility involving less than 8,000 square feet of gross floor area, not requiring a change in zoning or a use variance or the construction of new roads, where the project is subject to site plan review, and will be connected (at the commencement of habitation) to existing community owned or public water and sewerage systems including sewage treatment works that have the capacity to provide service; 

(23) in a city, town or village with an adopted zoning law or ordinance, reuse of a commercial or residential structure where the activity is consistent with the current zoning law or ordinance; “

The Type I list is also modified to lower the thresholds that trigger Type I review for certain projects. There are a number of other changes including the language addressing scoping and green infrastructure.

“Comments on the proposed amendments may be submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Permits, Attn: James J. Eldred, Environmental Analyst, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1750 or by e-mail to: seqra617@dec.ny.gov. Comments will be accepted until the close of business on May 19, 2017. A public hearing will be held on March 31, 2017. The hearing will begin at 1:00 pm at 625 Broadway, Albany, New York, Public Assembly Room 129.”

-Steven Silverberg